Psych – “Shawn Rescues Darth Vader”
“Take that, hyphens.”
Pro tip: don’t watch Season 3 Psych right before watching Season 6 Psych. It’ll only depress you.
That’s not to say the first episode of this season is a disappointment. It’s the Psych that you love if a little dulled by years of repetition. Shawn’s a little fatter, Juliet is a little weaker (her character is, more or less, a reaction shot to her male colleagues), and Gus doesn’t say “What” nearly enough.
But the basic pieces are still there and, dare I say, with some stakes raised. I don’t want to speculate about what’s planned for the rest of the season (since, last time I did, I predicted another “yips” story arc that amounted to nothing) but Psych has two trump cards sitting in its extra-pocketed sleeves ready to play for instant game-changers and we get a sneak peek at both of them in this episode.
I don’t want to speculate but I will. I want one or both of these things to happen. Because, unless there’s a plan for a wedding season finale, we need something else to look forward to. We’ve waited long enough.
The two trump cards: being outed as being not-psychic and becoming the prime suspect of a major case.
Obviously, there have been threats and close-calls for both of these throughout the series but never as dramatic and obvious as here. Let’s do the latter before the former.
Shawn and Gus never have a safe police procedure so that they don’t leave evidence behind or drastically change the crime scene. With as much as Shawn touched and ate and opened and saw, all without through for safety, I assumed this was going to be the storyline for the episode: Shawn has to get himself out of murder rap. I was sure of it when he found the body next to him (where he would almost certainly drop hair or skin) then escapes through a window (fingerprints), running from the security guards that clearly see him (witnesses). Gus warning him about being too specific during his psychic case initiation. Lassiter with the picture of the back of Shawn’s head. The diplomat (the first suspect) being all too happy to let him investigate (all the better to find a patsy). All of this simply refuted by Shawn saying that “the intruder” is not the guy they are looking for. And that’s the end.
Either that’s a clever bit of set-up for later this season when a wave of the Jedi’s hand doesn’t disappear a pretty solid case or the writers assume we’ll suspend our disbelief and accept this exception to protocol. I’m hoping for the former to remind the audience that this is still a storyline hanging out there. I also prefer to think the producers of this show don’t think we’re collective idiots.
The other thing, outing Shawn, is, obviously, a storyline from the beginning. But Lassiter absolutely asks him, point blank, with no room for side-stepping, if he’s psychic. As I watched Henry kick around some dirt and Gus trade out his badges, I was of two minds: (1) there’s no way he reveals this on day one of Season 6 and (2) I’m interested to see where this show goes if and when Shawn admits he’s not psychic, just a REALLY good noticer. I always thought the admission would come in the series finale to an anticlimactic “yeah, we know” from everyone in the police department. Lassie disabuses us of that possibility by being all hot in the pants for Shawn to answer his direct question. Shawn, after some hesitation that made me feel like this was it, calmly says “no.” Baiting.
With Juliet further infiltrating Shawn’s private life, even to the point that Shawn inadvertently declares his love for the girl, she, a pretty intuitive detective, has to eventually stumble on evidence that he isn’t who he says he is. After five seasons, it’s perfect set-up that Shawn has become comfortable with his position and is getting sloppy (evidenced by letting his picture get taken at the scene). So we can only assume that Juliet is going to find out sooner than later. What the show does with that information is what’s going to be interesting. Do they Don-Draper it and sweep it under the rug? Or will it become a major story arc? Reduced to a plotpoint for the Fall or Season finale? Or maybe the same producers that think we’re idiots think Juliet’s an idiot, too.
In any case, the episode itself is pretty okay. Antics with post-tween boys, funny accents, tossing around the term “diplomatic immunity.” The show may be a formula but it’s a unique formula comprised of pop references, Shawn’s misunderstanding of how the world works, SBPD’s underestimation of how Shawn works, and what has to be one of the highest murder rates per capita of any place this side of totalitarian state revolution. You get more of the same with Season 6 and I’m happy to see it. The rest of the comedy field is pretty bland right now.
And what’s good about this show is that they are willing to still shake up the structure: giving characters stakes, changing group dynamics, even moving around story elements in order to create different kinds of reveals. To wit, in this episode, they put the flashback to Young Shawn at the end instead of the beginning (where it’s usually part of the teaser) in order to create a better reveal for how Shawn beat the lie detector. The only way they’re able to do things like this, though, is because they’ve developed a trust with their audience. We trust them as storytellers and so, we’ll go along with things that we might roll our eyes at or get upset about in other shows. Chuck learned all about what happens when you violate an audience’s trust a season and a half ago with the backlash over Chuck and Sarah dating other people. Psych has a rock-solid relationship with its viewers and, therefore, has some license to do some pretty interesting things. Was there backlash when Shawn starting dating Abigail instead of Juliet? That’s what I’m talking about.
Psych is still something to look forward to. The star-studded upcoming season is nice and all, but the show itself is still a comfort in a field of terribleness in comedy this season. Have you seen Whitney? Ugh.
- October 13, 2011